The thing that some of us may or don't take into account is not all of us notaries got into this business to make $$$$$. Some of us got into it for much different reasons. I being one of such individuals. Some do it part time. Some do it for a little bit of extra spending money. Some love doing courtesy signings back-to-back for a lower fee at a bank or a closing company vs. traveling to and from assignments for the higher pay. I'm a full timer and take my business very seriously and I will do everything in my power to make my business viable. On the same token one of the many reasons I started my business is to have the freedom to help others when I'm able. I don't always take on assignments with the sole purpose of building my bottom line. Yes, some assignments I will take on at cost or at times pro bono. With this said, I've never done that to date with a signing agency. That's a different animal in my mind. And I agree with you that $25 for a HELOC signing is an absolute "no" for me. For a POA, however, if I am in the area and it's a relaxed work schedule and it's a company I enjoy working with then "yes" I'd take it. But generally my rule is to do such favors only for companies and clients and friends who I know I have repeat business with and a good working relationship.
The problem that lies in us notaries constantly telling others to NOT accept lowball fees is that most of us will react as ostriches with their heads in the sand. We will react as stubborn individuals. It's the "don't tell me what to do" concept. And I agree with them. Don't tell me what not to do, but instead offer me insight in what I should do to make my business better and stronger. When I started up my business this year I accepted the $60 assignments like there was no tomorrow because I had no other book of business and I did what I needed to do at that time to cover my initial start up expenses. And I don't regret it. Not for a second. I do regret the anguish and torture I'd put myself through when I'd miss a text notification for an assignment. Happy to mostly be out of that stress-basket-of-a-mess. So, when I saw then and I see to this day people demanding of notaries to not accept so called "low-ball" fees I don't listen and I don't take well to it. I understand the why, but then I counter with "why do you care so much that others will take the low paying assignments and spin their wheels?" Let them take those. That means when the assignment for a better fee comes across the airways I will be able to accept it and they won't because their schedule is clogged with the $60 ones. I get to benefit and do just one assignment and make as much as they make on two assignments. The companies that offer up low fees will always find a notary who will take it for low fees. Or when they don't they will then in turn accept our counter offer. Either way, I simply don't think it's all that important for us to ban together as notaries and decline certain fees. (I take a COMPLETELY different stance, btw, for non-paying companies).
I do agree with you with the concept that a notary should try and make their business so that they set fair pricing and do the math of expenses and budgeting and not just blindly take assignment after assignment. They need to do the math of what works for their personal business goals.
I'm two thumb upping your last three sentences and appreciate the detailed write up response on the rest. The thoughts and topics are endless in our business. If only if there was more time to share info, insights, and expertise in our biz.